Good tech changes our lives, great tech changes our culture. During touchy situations between police and civilians knowing exactly what happened is cause for constant dispute. Enter body cameras, which provide an instant replay benefitting both parties involved. That is, unless, the camera gets knocked off in combat or does not provide clear video. This is why Utility's use of the 2nd gen Moto X in its BodyWorn camera is an important step in the progress of body camera technology.
BodyWorn Police Camera by Utility: The Gear
Partnering with Elbeco, Utility is able to provide police uniforms with the body camera in mind. The row of buttons contains a cutout for the camera lens to peak through, allowing for an integrated design. The Moto X locks in place with magnets found on the phone case and embedded in the attire. Unlike police cameras integrated into glasses or clipped on to gear externally, the BodyWorn won’t get knocked off in times of action.
“Our software is an Android app,” said Robert McKeeman, co-founder of Utility, in an interview with iDigitalTimes. “In addition to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, accelerometer, etc., we also leverage the NFC sensor so the officer doesn’t need to log in. When the officer puts the BodyWorn inside their vest it reads that NFC chip and it knows who they are."
Why The Moto X Gen 2
There are numerous phones with NFC and the necessary built-in radios for BodyWorn. Even the iPhone boasts near field communication.
“With many Android phones, the video is pretty good but the audio isn’t so great," McKeeman said. "And not only does the Moto X have multiple microphones, it’s IP67 rated,”
The rating means the Moto X is dustproof and water-resistant. In terms of audio, we tested out the BodyWorn for ourselves and found the audio up to snuff. More on that later.
Utility's BodyWorn Is Just As Much Software As It Is Hardware
As with all great hardware, it’s not just about a spec list but what the silicon inside actually enable us to do. The BodyWorn app is just as important as the camera recording the footage. With the help of AvailWeb, Utility hopes to provide a one-stop shop for officers and the courts to turn to for video evidence.
Visuals from the field are automatically uploaded to Amazon’s cloud in one-minute chunks. With the BodyWorn software being able to run on a standard Moto X Android device, the device can be used as an officer’s actual phone when not on duty.
Once the app is running it stays running in the background. Beginning a camera recording is as easy as hitting record on the Bluetooth remote or saying the command “Ok, BodyWorn: start recording.” There are conditions that automatically turn on the BodyWorn camera as well. If the officer starts running, for example, the phone detects that and switches on the recording. Or another officer can set a geofence around a designated area. If you’d like all officers to record footage when entering anywhere between 35th street and 65th street, BodyWorn has that ability.
Video captured via the BodyWorn is uploaded automatically before the officer even returns to the precinct. All footage is watermarked with identifying info for individual officers. Metadata containing location, time and date are attached to video and searchable via the AvailWeb web view. Despite being easily accessible on the site, police footage isn’t accessible to the public.
But More Important Is The Effect BodyWorn Could Have On Officer/Civilian Interactions
Utility is in talks to get BodyWorn on the vests of NYPD and other city’s police departments around the country. Getting the authorities to wear cameras not only helps civilians when details don’t quite add up, but benefit police as well. In most cases, arguably everyone involved assumes their best behavior when the interaction is on record.
Robert sees Utility as a software provider in this initiative. The company's goal is to bring the police world up to speed with the many advancements that have been made in the tech space over the years. "There was a time where you had to burn a CD and mail it to the prosecutor, the judge, the defense attorney," the co-founder tells us. "The ultimate goal is to be Netflix for legal evidence."
What do you think of the BodyWorn police camera by Utility? Prefer a different company’s solution? Sound off below in the comments!